Writing in the Age of Loneliness: Eco-Literature & the Writer’s Task
We are now in the throes of a sixth mass extinction of plants and animals. Biologist E.O. Wilson said it may be called by scientists and poets alike the Eremozoic: “The Age of Loneliness.” If we take the worries of climate change and habitat destruction seriously—and in this lonely age potentially bereft of our fellow creatures—doesn’t this threaten to render literature and poems utterly useless? In this two-session class we’ll strive to find ways past this potentially debilitating hurdle. We’ll ask questions that instead of silencing ourselves will urge us on: What is our responsibility as writers to this epoch? Can the average working person with limited access to nature make any difference? How might we depict the suffering of non-human but sentient beings? How can one write about plants and animals without producing work that is sentimental, overly personified, flat-lined with facts, or, worse, rendered incapable of communicating from its own rage? What impact can we make with our words? We’ll study poems, lyric essays, and stories that have their own solutions to these pitfalls and will try our hands at writing through this darkness with awareness, control, and yes, even hope. This class meets on two Thursdays, April 29 and May 6, 6-7:30 p.m.
About the Instructor: Nickole Brown is the author of Sister and Fanny Says. She lives with her wife, poet Jessica Jacobs, in Asheville where she periodically volunteers at three different animal sanctuaries. She writes about these animals, resisting the kind of pastorals that made her (and many of the working-class folks from the Kentucky that raised her) feel shut out of nature. Her work speaks in a queer, Southern-trash-talking way about nature beautiful, damaged, and in desperate need of saving. To Those Who Were Our First Gods won the 2018 Rattle Chapbook Prize, and her essay-in-poems, The Donkey Elegies, was published in 2020.